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NOTES ON A SCANDAL

The Betrayed Husband
"If you meant to destroy us, why not do it with an adult?  That's the convention. It's worked for centuries.” -- Richard

When Sheba Hart gives in to her desires and begins a romantic liaison with school-aged Steven Connelly, she not only inspires the machinations of Barbara Covett – she also betrays her husband, a somewhat older professor and loyal partner played with understated charm by Bill Nighy. Nighy is one of Britain's leading screen stars, with roles that have ranged from the British ensemble comedy LOVE ACTUALLY to the Emmy Award® winning telefilm GIRL IN THE CAFÉ to the recently blockbuster action film THE PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST. Nighy, whose work spans screen, television and stage, had previously worked with Richard Eyre at the National Theatre and the West End.

Nighy notes that by the time he was approached to do the film, it was essentially impossible to say no. He recalls: "Both Dame Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett were already in place and I knew Richard Eyre was going to direct and that Scott Rudin and Robert Fox were producing and that Chris Menges was going to photograph it – so it was a pretty safe place to be, in such illustrious company!”

Upon reading Zoë Heller's novel, Nighy became even more interested by the story's provocative subject matter, which he laughingly sums up as: "Sex famously makes fools of us all. Or at least, I hope it's everybody and not just me!”

Eyre was especially impressed by Nighy's performance as the injured husband. "I've known Bill as a friend and as an actor for about 25 years. I've always envied the way that he does the hardest thing in acting and makes it look easy. He appears spontaneous, as if the thought, the words, the actions are occurring to him at that moment in time when the audience and the camera are watching,” says Eyre. "He's a very romantic figure but somehow gives the impression that his feet are planted firmly on the ground. Whatever he says as a character he makes his own. And he never fails to make me laugh.”

As for Richard, Nighy found himself quite sympathetic to the character's plight as that rarity in film: the betrayed husband who isn't a bad guy in the least. "My character married Sheba when she was 20 and he was considerably older than her,” he explains. "I think he's a perfectly nice man who loves his wife a lot, adores her and especially their two children. The interesting part is that they seem to have such a pleasant, successful marriage and then Sheba suddenly and seemingly inexplicably has an affair with a 15 year-old. That makes it a far richer dramatic situation than if my character were a villain.”

Working with two actresses of the abilities of Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench was also a distinct bonus for Nighy. "Working so closely with Cate was as satisfying as anyone I've ever worked with,” he says. "There are a very few, rare individuals like Cate who are that spookily talented. And she appears to achieve all that she achieves with a minimum of fuss. Between her and Judi Dench, I think you have two of the finest performers currently working. It's an especially unusual part for Judi Dench because it's not something she's been asked to deliver before, playing someone so manipulative and destructive. Having these two on the case definitely made things pretty exciting for all of us.”

With the role of Richard filled by Nighy, Patrick Marber knew the character would have a certain depth and charm. "I've wanted to work with Bill Nighy for as long as I can remember. There's no one quite like him. I don't know how he does it but he seems to be completely loose and incredibly specific simultaneously,” says Marber. "He's free. He never labored the pain of the role yet he's incredibly moving, he never tries for laughs he just seems to get them. He wears a suit as well as any man I know. He loves Bob Dylan. Bill Nighy is

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